Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

This weekend the Girl and I went on a Girl Scout camping trip on the beautiful Hood Canal. For one of the meals, the girls cooked it from start to finish in their cook shelter. The Girl volunteered to help with dessert which would be chocolate chip cupcakes. Since one of the girls in the troop also eats gluten and dairy free, I went to work making a paleo recipe that the girls could take to camp and easily make in a box oven. I mixed all dry ingredients into a Ziploc bag at home, then the girls added the eggs, honey and applesauce at camp. Simple!

They first needed to make the box oven (instructions here), then mix up the cupcake batter and cook it at their campsite. The results were better than I expected, really. Once we got the placement of the cupcake pan right (don't sit the pan directly on the coals!), then the cupcakes cooked up like they would have in a regular oven. The window on the top, that The Girl insisted on including,  made checking on the cupcakes much easier! I highly recommend a window in your box oven. And I highly recommend giving box oven cooking a try, just for the novelty of the whole thing if for nothing else. :)

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
1 C Almond Flour
2 Tbs. Coconut flour
3 Tbs. Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs
1/2 C applesauce (one of those 4 oz cups of applesauce works great for traveling)
1/2 C honey
1 C chocolate chips (we used dairy free chips)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, then add all wet ingredients to dry and stir in the chips. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes in a regular oven. For box oven, use 9 briquettes and cook for about 30 minutes. Cupcakes will have gooey melted chips inside when warm.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Paleo Camping and How to make and use a Box Oven

I spent this past weekend at Girl Scout Encampment with The Girl and her Girl Scout troop. I loved the idea of spending the time with my daughter outside on the beautiful Hood Canal, but I was initially reluctant to go for a variety of reasons 1. I'm always cold. 2. I like flush toilets and 3. how can I eat Paleo while camping and having many of my meals prepared for me by someone else?

I'm happy to report that I have figured out the right sleeping gear for me in the wild that allows me to remain warm enough and I got used to the Biffy (Bathroom In the Forest For You). :) But #3 was a challenge. During an encampment, many of your meals are provided for you by the kitchen staff at the camp. My registration form had me marked as gluten-free, but there wasn't an option for paleo, grain free, refined sugar free, legume-free, etc. So I went into the weekend knowing I'd have to be flexible and use this as my 20% non-paleo ration. I also had a discussion the other day with a friend about how I feel like stressing out over things I can't control (like the food at camp) or worrying about bringing all of my own food is releasing enough stress hormones into my body to negate all of the good I'd do by having better food on hand. So I decided to chill-out and go with the flow for one weekend knowing I'd jump back into my routine on Monday. I did take a number of fresh fruit items, larabars and trail mix to supplement what I was able to find in camp, but found it hard to remember to put them in my day pack every morning (had to lock them up from critters every night). So the meals I ate in the lodge were ok, but were not paleo. They contained rice, corn, soy and refined sugar I'm sure, but they didn't contain wheat (I think), which is the biggie for me. So I'm ok with it.

The one shining point in the food department for the weekend was the meal cooked by the troop in our cook shelter. Since we could decided on all parts of the meal, the girls (one of which is also gluten and dairy free) planned a tasty meal that was very paleo friendly. Their menu consisted of Chicken Soup, Veggie tray, Fruit salad, Grilled Cheese sandwiches (I ate the deli ham that came with it),  and Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (New creation by me and The Girl. Stay tuned for the recipe!).

In order to cook these Chocolate Chip Cupcakes the girls had to make their own box oven. This contraption  consisted of a cardboard box, tin foil, heat proof aluminum tape (found it in the hardware store) and a turkey baking bag.

How to make your own Box Oven
1. You will need a box that is about 2-4 inches larger in both dimensions than whatever cookie or cake pan you plan to use for baking. We used a muffin pan that holds 12 muffins. A sturdy banana box from Costco or a larger Amazon box will work well.
2. Cover the inside of the box with tin foil. You can cover the outside as well if you want it to look pretty. BE SURE NO CARDBOARD IS UNCOVERED INSIDE THE BOX OR IT WILL CATCH FIRE.
3. Cut a hole in the bottom of your box for your "window" (this isn't necessary but is pretty cool)
4. Cover the hole with 1-2 layers of the turkey baking bag and secure with aluminum tape making sure there aren't any holes.

In addition to the box oven you will need 2-4 aluminum or tin cans, 1 disposable aluminum tray to hold charcoal briquettes, Charcoal Briquettes, 1 rock about 2 inches tall.

To use your box oven
1. Mix up the cake, muffins, cupcakes, etc. that you plan to bake. Really you can make anything in a box oven that you can make in a regular oven. I've seen people make pizza in it. So I don't know why you couldn't roast veggies or bake some fish you caught or even bake cookies.

2. In the aluminum tray place your charcoal briquettes in a single layer. Each briquette will give you 40 degrees F when baking. So if you are cooking at 360F you will need 9 briquettes.

3. light briquettes and wait until they have turned light grey in color. When they have reached that color, place your aluminum or tin cans either inside the aluminum tray beside the coals or outside the tray depending on the size of the charcoal tray and the baking pan. (See the diagram below for placement options.) Then place the filled baking pan on top of the cans above the charcoal tray. Coals should not be touching the baking pan.

4. Cover the whole thing with the box and prop up one corner of the box with a rock for air flow. If the box is tight to the ground the coals will not burn. Fire needs oxygen to burn.

5. It will take about 15 minutes for the box oven to come to temperature. Your cooking time will vary based on materials, temperature outside, briquettes, etc. But you can assume it will be similar to your regular oven. Every time you raise the box to test for doneness, you will lose 25 degrees and 15 minutes from your cooking time. So don't raise the box unless absolutely necessary. (this is why the window is so nice!)

(picture of the Chocolate chip cupcakes I made at home in preparation for the camping trip. The ones made at camp weren't this pretty, but they tasted great!)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Snickerdoodles on a Stick!

Since I found these pans for cookies on a stick, we've been going a little crazy seeing what kinds of cookies taste good and survive being on a stick. The other day the girl wanted to make snickerdoodle cookies. Far be it from me to burst her bubble, so I facilitated the making of Snickerdoodles on a Stick! :) She was very proud of the outcome and I have to agree with her; they were very tasty!

Snickerdoodle Cookies
2 C almond flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1+ tsp. cinnamon (divided)
1/4 C melted coconut oil
1/4 C honey or maple syrup
1 Tbs. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F and line a cookie sheet (or cookie on a stick pan) with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking soda and 1 tsp. cinnamon. In another bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet forming a stiff dough. To make regular circular cookies, form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls then flatten on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle all cookie with the remaining cinnamon. Bake for about 20 minutes. Cookies will seem soft when they come out of the oven, but will harden as the coconut oil cools. You can harden them faster by putting cookies in the freezer for a few minutes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Northwest Cavegirls Cookbooks

Well, folks, you ask and we deliver! We've gotten requests for a book compiling our recipes into an easy to search format; so, we've put together the first few of hopefully many such books.

This first book, The Northwest Cavegirls Bake (Kindle version or print version), features cookie, cupcake, muffin, scone and pie recipes, many of which have never before been published and are exclusive to this book. We've included many colorful photographs of these tasty treats as well.  The Northwest Cavegirls Bake, is available in Kindle format from Amazon and in print format from CreateSpace. If you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow the eBook for free, otherwise it is available for only $1.99; the print version is only $10!

Our second book, Sides, Salads & Starters, is now available in Kindle eBook format from Amazon for only $1.99 or the print version can be purchased from CreateSpace for only $10 ! Get your copy of this full color book containing more than 40 tasty vegetable, salad and appetizer recipes today!


Our third book, Breakfast, is now available in Kindle eBook format from Amazon for only $1.99 or the print version can be purchased from CreateSpace for only $10 ! Get your copy of this full color book containing more than 40 tasty pancake, waffle, muffin, "cereal" and smoothie recipes today!

As we continue to move forward, we hope to compile more books featuring topics such as "Freezer Meals", "Entrees", "Snacks" "Kid Friendly Paleo Foods", "Paleo Dinner Party Ideas", "Paleo Meal Plans" and many more. What kind of book would you like to see us put together? Is there a topic you're most interested in seeing published? Give us your ideas and we'll go to work making them a reality for you.

We're having such fun on this adventure and love sharing our journey and the things we've learned along the way. We hope you find it nearly as exciting as we do, and we hope you continue to let us know what we can do to make your Paleo lifestyle even more fulfilling.

Stay tuned to see what us crazy Cavegirls do next!


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